If you’re part of a team in the office or on the shop floor, you often become close to those workers alongside you who meet the same challenges you do. Friendships develop and often move beyond the workplace. You spend so much time together that it’s only natural for these relationships to flourish.

But what happens if you receive a promotion and suddenly find yourself in a position of authority over these friends? These are the same people you’ve been joking around with and who know your embarrassing stories. Now they report to you. How do you make this new situation work?

Handling the Tension After a Promotion

Once you become a leader, the former rules of friendship can’t really apply any longer. Things have undeniably changed. Even though your feelings might remain the same, you have to be aware of how you interact with your employees going forward. There has to be a balance.

It may be awkward at first, and some newly-promoted leaders will go to extremes: they either totally cut themselves off from their friends, or they go on with the friendships as if nothing happened. Neither of these approaches stand to work out in the long run

Those who allow their new powers to go to their heads and act superior to the people who were once their peers will no longer have their respect and friendship. Likewise, those who don’t create some supervisory distance will end up with a team of workers that don’t respect their authority, either.

How then can you keep your friendships and, at the same time, be the leader who will improve the workplace and increase productivity?

Walking the Tightrope Between Friendship and Leadership

The most effective policy a leader can have is to avoid having employees as best friends. But, if you were already close to someone before the promotion, there are a few things you can do to maintain the friendship without hindering your career.

  • Keep Your Work Interactions Professional: Don’t let others see you treating someone with a familiarity they don’t also enjoy. If you do things as friends outside of work, don’t talk about work, especially not to complain about the company!
  • Stay Away From Wild Parties: And don’t post any activities with your friend on social media where other employees could see them. It can seem unprofessional, and it could be interpreted as favoritism.
  • Try Not to Manage Your Best Friends Directly: If you can’t avoid managing them, have a talk with them and explain to them why you must avoid the appearance of favoritism among your workers. Most good friends will understand your position.
  • Ask Someone Else to Make the Call: If you can’t keep your emotions out of a managerial decision, ask another manager to make the final call. There is nothing wrong with admitting you’re emotionally compromised.

Walking the line between the professional and personal can be a difficult balancing act. If you want to be seen as the leader of your team, it’s best to follow these practices to ensure working relationships are intact and your authority is respected

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